March 26, 2017

Bizarre Undervote on iVotronic in France

In France, most municipalities use paper ballots in elections, but a few places have begun using DRE (direct-recording electronic) machines. Pierre Muller, a French computer scientist, has recently sent me a report of a malfunction by an ES&S iVotronic machine in a recent municipal election.

In this spring’s elections (and he believes this also happened last year), there have been some unexplained “undervotes” on iVotronic machines. Below is a printout from an iVotronic machine. There’s a line “UnderVotes For Above Contest: 1”. Since the voter is required by the user-interface to choose between a candidate and the choice “vote blanc” [none of the above], undervotes should not be possible.

This event is similar in some ways to the Sequoia AVC Advantage bug observed in New Jersey on February 5, 2008. In both cases it appears that the machine is producing results that should not be possible, and in both cases local election officials are unable to explain how these results could legitimately be obtained.

Here is the relevant portion of the printout:

I’ve also prepared a larger image of the full printout, annotated with my English translation.


  1. Well done! The current administration would never let us use a voting system which is so similar to that used by….FRANCE!

    Coming back to a polling place near you, “Freedom Ballots”, made of gen-yoo-ine American paper.

  2. Chris, you must have missed the part where Everybody Loves Sarkozy. Vive la France!

  3. Complete. audit. of. source. code.

  4. supercat says:

    Curious that the system uses a printer that is apparently not equipped with or configured for the proper character set, but that’s considered acceptable. I would think “reserve” would be a more acceptable spelling of “réservé” than would “r0serv0”.

  5. Chris Grigg says:

    Ed and Colleagues: Speaking of the Brad Blog, just in case you haven’t already hard about this, a co-founder of Smartmatic (parent or former parent of Sequoia) died yesterday in an unusual small plane crash in Caracas. The pilot had had drug trafficking convictions in the US and Venezuela. More here: (Also sounds like there’s a very very messy hostile takeover of Sequoia by Hart in progress.)

  6. is there any more on this article or is it now closed?

  7. James Wimberley says:

    Following supercat’s remark on missing accents, it’s striking that the software messages haven’t been fully translated: “Ballot style” and “undervotes for above contest” have been left in English. Falsus in unum, falsus in omnia: carelessness in what you can see destroys confidence in what you can’t see.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Andrew, is there any additional details of this. I.e has anyone in france looked for more widespread examples? I am curious how much of this will be blamed on the choosing none feature that they employ in France where voters must choose not to vote (not implemented to my knowledge in any U.S. user of the iVotronic).

    Additionally what version of the system are they using?